Scarborough hikes beach parking fees for nonresidents

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SCARBOROUGH — Town councilors on Wednesday night doubled the cost of seasonal nonresident parking passes at three town beaches.

Over objections from the owners of the town’s first brewery, the council also restricted parking on part of Gorham Road to one side of the street.  

Councilors approved increasing the fees to park at town-owned Ferry Beach, Higgins Beach and Hurd Park.

A resident seasonal beach pass will remain at $40, but nonresident passes have increased from $75 to $150. Daily parking has gone from $10 to $15, and a new $5 charge is being instituted for morning beach-goers between 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.

The fees take effect immediately, but enforcement will likely not begin until May, according to Town Clerk Tody Justice. 

Councilors debated whether a specific group is targeted by the increase – specifically surfers – by the early morning parking fee, while others contended as a matter of fairness, the town wants everybody who enjoys the beach to pay for parking.

Parking at Scarborough Beach State Park, which is operated by Black Point Resource Management through a public-private partnership, will not be affected.

Councilor Peter Hayes said the town already collects a surplus of about $100,000 from parking fees, after the cost to operate the beaches.

Councilor Shawn Babine said Scarborough’s day fees are comparable to other area towns, while Councilor Jean Marie Caterina pointed out all residents 62 and older are eligible for a free beach pass. Commercial fisherman are also allowed a free pass at Ferry Beach. 

Although she doesn’t oppose the fees, Councilor Kate Foley said she felt the council is chipping away at access each year, which is why she would not support the fee increase. 

Foley and Hayes opposed the measure, which passed 5-2. 

Gorham Road parking

In a second ordinance reading about a parking restriction near Nonesuch River Brewery, a compromise was hashed out so parking would be eliminated on the side of the street where the business is located, at 201 Gorham Road.

The restriction will stretch from 183 Gorham Road to the intersection with Spring Street. It was initially proposed as a temporary measure, but the council’s vote made it a permanent ban. 

Babine and Hayes voted against the restriction.

At a November meeting, brewery owners Jeff Gambardella, Tim Boardman and Michael Schuler said they were against an original proposal to restrict parking on both sides of the street, and suggested the speed limit be reduced as a way to address safety concerns. 

After the council’s vote Wednesday, Boardman in a phone interview maintained the speed limit should be reduced to 25 mph from 35 mph, and said an increased police presence would do more to increase safety.

He said eliminating parking on one side of the street restricts access to the brewery and restaurant, which opened last summer and seats nearly 150 people.

Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina also moved to ensure parking will not be allowed along the property boundary of the only house in the area, at 200 Gorham Road. Her motion was approved by a vote of 5-2. 

Councilor Chris Caiazzo said he did not want to inhibit the business, but safety must be a focus. He called the decision to limit parking to one side of the street a compromise.

Others said there is only so much that can be done to make the street safer, and people have a choice about whether they want to park on the side of the street. 

Town Manager Tom Hall said public works will address the parking issue when snow removal is necessary, and getting it off the road may be a problem if there are vehicles parked along the road. 

Hall also said LED lights will be replacing old fixtures in town street lights, with the result being better intensity and color, and improved visibility.

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661 ext.,106 or jlaaka@theforecaster.net.

Pine Point is one of the Scarborough beaches where the seasonal cost of public parking will double for nonresidents.

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